During the offseason, I’ll be looking back at certain aspects of the Jets’ season by analyzing data compiled from all nineteen games, rather than watching film. I will be tackling as many diverse topics as possible, but welcome your suggestions or requests in the comments.

This week, I am going to look at the screen pass. A staple of the Chad Pennington/Vinny Testaverde eras, the screen pass is a weapon which many Jets fans feel should be used more. Some state that the Jets don't use it enough, but is that accurate? Others have said that the Jets are incapable of running this play, but does that come down to coaching, execution or personnel?

After the jump, I look at the data from the past three seasons to try and determine how successful the Jets have been in running this play compared with other teams and if there are any obvious trends linked to the personnel changes over the past couple of years.

Once again, I have used data provided by ProFootballFocus.com in researching this article and we thank them for providing us with exclusive access.

Note: In defining a "screen pass" I have used any pass where the ball was thrown to a receiver behind the line of scrimmage. Although this may eliminate some screen passes where the ball was caught beyond the line of scrimmage or where the pass travelled laterally and the play was therefore classified as a run, I consider these to be rare, so it is the simplest and most convenient way to ensure I am comparing equivalent data sets.

Why Do They "Never" Run a Screen Pass?

One common complaint is that the Jets never even tried to run a screen pass last season. Before we consider the reasons why this might be, is it justified? Let's look at some numbers from last year and compare how often teams threw screen passes when they did pass the ball. For simplicity, I will only consider the numbers for the main starting quarterback.

Jets - 8.1% of all throws were screen passes

Miami - 16.4%

Indianapolis - 11.1%

New England - 9.3%

Green Bay - 12.9%

Pittsburgh - 14.8%

Philadelphia - 15.7%

Buffalo - 12.9%

Detroit - 16.6%

Chicago - 10.8%

NY Giants - 13.0%

That's just a random sample of teams, but you can clearly see that the Jets threw less screen passes than any of them - significantly so, in some cases. You may be surprised to note that New England is the only other team that threw beyond the line of scrimmage over 90% of the time.

So, there does seem to be some truth to the complaint that the Jets don't run the screen pass as often as most other teams. What could be the reasons for this? Here are some suggestions. As always, we welcome your alternative theories in the comments.

1. Is it a strategic decision?

2. Is the quarterback incapable of running one successfully?

3. Are the receivers incapable of making the play work?

4. Are the blockers incapable of blocking capably on such plays?

5. Is the offensive co-ordinator incapable of running one successfully?

6. Has it been overlooked or forgotten in lieu of some other play?

Let's tackle these one at a time.

Strategic Decision?

A screen pass usually works best when the defense rushes the quarterback with several guys, leaving them outnumbered downfield by potential blockers. Early in the season, teams started approaching the Jets by dropping linebackers into coverage and flooding short to intermediate routes. The result of this is that the screen pass may not have been effective, because you are simply throwing a pass underneath and several would-be tacklers will have a chance to keep the play in front of them. This was a common tactic employed by opposing defenses, so it may have been a conscious decision to run fewer screen passes based on the assumption that it would not be a high-percentage play.

The Jets wouldn't be the first team to decide that running a screen pass was a low percentage play and remove it from their gameplan. After their loss to the Jets in Week Two of 2009, Bill Belichick was asked why he didn't counter the Jets pressure by running screen passes and he admitted that this would be a low-percentage and risky option because the Jets man-blitzes often accounted for the back out of the backfield. This underscores the fact that sometimes, the screen pass is an option that might not work and the fact this comes from another team that don't run very many is perhaps thought-provoking.

It's certainly possible that the Jets ran fewer screen passes than everybody else because they didn't think the play was likely to work, but that may not necessarily have been for strategic reasons.

Can Mark Sanchez Execute a Screen Pass?

The decision not to use the screen pass much may instead be born of a lack of confidence in Mark Sanchez' ability to execute the play. We'll get to exactly how successful the screen passes the Jets did run in 2010 were in due course, but the decision to not run many may simply reflect what critics of Sanchez have been saying since he was drafted. His accuracy is not very good.

Pinpoint accuracy is vitally important when throwing the screen pass. The most accurate quarterback in NFL history (in terms of completion percentage) is former Jet Chad Pennington and Jets fans will remember how successful he was in the short passing game because his receivers were able to catch the ball without breaking stride. If you throw slightly behind a receiver, or force them to stretch for the ball, they can lose all upfield momentum and the timing of the play is thrown off. If Brian Schottenheimer lacked confidence in his ability to make the throw accurately, then he might have considered a different pass to be a higher percentage option.

Do They Have the Receivers to Make a Screen Pass Work?

Receiving personnel is another key consideration. While Testaverde and Pennington had guys like Curtis Martin and Richie Anderson to dump the ball off to, the Jets lacked that type of player once Leon Washington went down in 2009. With the arrival of LaDainian Tomlinson in 2010, the Jets were better equipped to throw screen passes, but the loss of Washington removed a dynamic playmaking option from the equation.

Also, when the Jets replaced small, quick, receivers such as Chansi Stuckey, Laveranues Coles and David Clowney with the likes of Braylon Edwards and Patrick Turner, they again lost some of the shiftiness and acceleration that lends itself to a successful screen play.

Can They Block a Screen Pass Effectively?

Although the Jets made a conscious decision to beef up the offensive line by moving on from Alan Faneca and replacing him with Matt Slauson, they still have plenty of downfield blocking ability. Nick Mangold has always excelled at getting out in front and D'Brickashaw Ferguson has also made tremendous progress in that area. Slauson and Brandon Moore might not be as athletic as Faneca was at his peak, but they are no slouches, and - despite what their rankings say - the Jets have some capable blockers at the wide receiver position.

Although the Jets had many screen passes that failed to work this season, an inaccurately thrown pass can prevent a screen pass from working even if the blocks are set up well. In fact, there were a number of occasions where the intended receiver appeared to have blockers out in front, only for the pass to fall incomplete.

Does the Offensive Co-Ordinator Know How to Design a Screen Pass?

Once again, we are thrust headlong into an Execution v Coaching debate. Any of the personnel issues listed above may or may not be the reason that the screen pass was often overlooked last season. Or are they just excuses? Fortunately, we can get some valuable insight from further research here, because Schottenheimer was also the offensive co-ordinator before many of the personnel changes took place. Will there be a marked improvement in the numbers from a few years ago, or is Schottenheimer the common denominator in the failure of Jets to run a screen pass effectively? Keep reading to find out.

Has the Screen Pass Been Forgotten?

The final question is whether the Jets reluctance to use the screen pass is a conscious decision or has it merely been overlooked because the Jets have so many weapons that they need/want to try and get involved. Maybe they haven't decided it won't work - whether that be because of the defensive alignment, or their inability to execute it well due to personnel or coaching - they've just stopped trying for whatever reason. This sounds plausible, but based on how successful the play was over the last couple of seasons, the alternative possibilities would appear more likely.

How Successful Were the Screens They DID Run?

Sanchez completed 81% of his screen passes, for just 4.0 yards per catch. Based on that, they might have been better off just running the ball, but those numbers are pretty meaningless unless you put them alongside those of his peers. Here are some pertinent examples:

Chad Henne - 87%, 6.4 ypc

Peyton Manning - 95%, 6.4 ypc

Tom Brady - 80%, 8.2 ypc

Surprisingly, Brady had a lower completion percentage, but the plays gained over twice as many yards. Again, that comes down to how accurately the ball is thrown. Just for fun, these were Chad Pennington's numbers in 2008:

Chad Pennington - 91%, 6.4 ypc.

As you can see, the Jets were not nearly as successful as these other teams. Of course, that isn't necessarily on Sanchez, although PFF did rate him negatively on ten short passes to running backs in 2010 - seven overthrows and three underthrows. In contrast, Brady had just two - one of which was David Harris' interception - and Peyton Manning had just three. Therefore, there is some evidence to suggest that Sanchez was a major part of the reason why the screen passes were not quite as effective as they might have been.

How did the team fare in Sanchez' rookie year, then? They actually ran fewer screen passes, but they also passed less overall, so as a percentage, they ran screen passes 11.8% of the time, which is comparable to a few of the examples from earlier. In 2009, Sanchez only completed 72%, so you can begin to see why they started to go away from it. However, the improvement to 81% in 2010 is a positive sign. Hopefully this suggests that Sanchez is improving in that area and the screen pass will eventually become a more reliable option. Also in 2009, the play was pretty successful when it was completed, gaining 7.5 yards per catch. However, when you consider yards per attempt, the low completion percentage drops that figure below that of Miami, New England and Indianapolis from the list of 2010 examples above.

Why Was the YPC so Low in 2010?

First it should be noted that the sample sizes are small enough that a big play could have a huge impact on the numbers. For example, Jerricho Cotchery had a 33 yard gain on a WR screen called back for a holding penalty. Had that stood, the YPC number would have risen from 4.0 to 4.7. As another example, you'll recall Tom Brady pitching to Danny Woodhead on what was ruled a 50 yard catch against the Jets. Had that been classed as a run, New England's YPC would have dropped by over a yard and Woodhead's would have almost halved.

Looking at the individual splits, one major reason is that LaDainian Tomlinson was pretty inefficient on screen passes. He averaged under three yards per catch and if you remove him from the equation, the rest of the screen passes thrown in 2010 averaged a more respectable 5.2 ypc.

Tomlison was a reliable checkdown option over the middle, but perhaps his lack of speed and inability to break tackles relative to someone like Leon Washington obviously limited his ability to make much ground when catching the ball behind the line. Let's compare Tomlinson's 21 catches for 57 yards (with four incompletions) on screen passes with some of the other backs around the league.

Ray Rice (league leader in receiving yards for RBs) - 31-309 (five incompletions)

Danny Woodhead (league leader in yards per catch for RBs) - 8-96 (four inc.)

Jamaal Charles (PFF's top rated overall RB) - 20-118 (three inc.)

LeSean McCoy (league leader in receptions for RBs) - 54-408 (five inc.)

Darren McFadden (big play specialist) - 26-253 (no inc.)

While there may be some evidence that the Jets' ability to run a screen pass was hampered by the effectiveness of their receiving personnel, the accuracy of passes thrown to Tomlinson or possibly the play design may also be a factor in his low relative success rate. Maybe these factors had a material effect on his ability to break tackles. Certainly, if you look back to Tomlinson's numbers on screen passes with Phil Rivers throwing him the ball in 2008 and 2009, his production far exceeds the 21-57 he achieved in 2010. In 2009, he had 15 catches for 77 yards (with two incompletions) and in 2008 he caught 29 for 190 yards (with seven incompletions). While Tomlinson's overall numbers have dipped since 2008, there was no discernable drop-off between 2009 and 2010, which again suggests that his numbers on screen passes should have been similar and therefore must be lower due to either the passer or the system.

How Did the Jets Fare Before Sanchez?

Unfortunately, I do not have the data available to appraise the efficacy of screen passes thrown while Chad Pennington was at the helm. However, we do have data for 2008. Brett Favre may not have been that accurate as a Jet, but with Leon Washington as an option and a smaller, shiftier crop of receivers, would his numbers throwing the screen pass be significantly better than those of Mark Sanchez, or would they be similarly hampered by Brian Schottenheimer's perceived inability to design a screen play properly?

The first thing to note is that they ran the screen pass 18% of the time - more than any of the teams in the previous examples. Clearly the screen pass was more of a staple of the offense back then and they had more confidence in it. Given that he threw screens about twice as often, how did Favre's numbers stack up with Sanchez' two year totals of 77% completions, 5.5 yards per catch and 4.2 yards per attempt?

Percentage - 89.4%

Yards per Catch - 5.7 ypc

Yards per Attempt - 5.1 ypa

Clearly these numbers were significantly better than those for Mark Sanchez, which suggests that any contention that Brian Schottenheimer doesn't know how to use a screen pass can be shot down and the reason they have used it less with Sanchez at the helm must be because they expected it to be less effective. For a further comparison, let's look at what Favre did with screen passes over the last couple of years in Minnesota.

Threw a screen 13.5% of the time

Completed 85%

Yards per catch - 6.8

Yards per attempt - 5.8

A slight improvement, but not significant enough to suggest that Favre was significantly better off throwing screen passes in Minnesota.

Having reached the conclusion that LaDainian Tomlinson's effectiveness was impacted by joining the Jets, we can also consider whether any of the other Jets were more effective on screen passes before Sanchez took over at Quarterback.

- Leon Washington - 2008: 26-228 (4 incompletions), 2009: 3-25 (3 incompletions).

Already you can see how Sanchez' accuracy had an effect. Obviously, Leon was hurt early in the season, so the sample size is small, but already you can see that the play was used less and was less effective per attempt. Critics of Brian Schottenheimer might point to this as evidence that Leon was under-utilized, but it was actually just a sign that they were choosing to get the ball to him in ways other than via the screen pass. He still averaged over 14 touches a game (not including kick and punt returns) in those first six games, well ahead of his 2008 pace - under eight touches per game.

- Thomas Jones - 2008: 21-121 (3 incompletions), 2009: 5-22 (4 incompletions).

Once again, you can see a significant drop in terms of usage, accuracy and yardage per attempt. For what it's worth, Jones caught all five screen passes for 19 yards in 2010, but the Chiefs tended to use the speedier Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster for that play and Jones' numbers for accuracy and yards per attempt were still better than in 2009.

- Jerricho Cotchery - 2008: 12-50 (one incompletion), 2009/2010: 16-123 (one incompletion)

Here we start to see a pattern develop. Sanchez was just as good, if not better, in terms of throwing screen passes to his receivers. That seems to apply across the board, but I've used Cotchery to illustrate this because he is the main target and the one who seems to have the most success per attempt (Brad Smith, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes have a combined 11 catches for 18 yards over the last three years). When you throw the ball to a receiver in the flat, it's more of a fast pass, whereas Sanchez seems to struggle with a soft dump-off to his backs. In other words, touch is as much of a problem for him as accuracy. Of his 10 incomplete screen passes in 2010, none went to wide receivers and of his 12 incomplete screen passes in 2009, only three did.

Just to underline this, let's compare Favre's 2008 numbers for RB screens only, to those of Sanchez in 2009/2010:

Favre - 47 for 54 (87%), 349 yards (6.5 ypc, 7.4 ypa)

Sanchez - 36 for 53 (68%), 134 yards (2.5 ypc, 3.7 ypa)

That's pretty illuminating.

Is Blocking the Problem?

To answer this question, we can again look back to 2008, when the Jets had more success with the screen pass. The offensive line was the same in 2010 as it was back in 2008, apart from the fact that Matt Slauson replaced Alan Faneca. Looking at PFF's ratings for screen blocking in 2008, all five graded positively. Ferguson and Woody were 3rd and 6th in the league for screen blocking among tackles, Faneca and Moore were 6th and 14th respectively among guards and Mangold was 10th among centers. So, all five were capable of doing a good job. None have factored in the leaders for screen blocking since then, due to the Jets not running many screens and having limited success when they do so.

Maybe Alan Faneca was better at blocking in space in 2008 than Matt Slauson is now, but otherwise, the line should still be able to perform up to that level. In fact, any downgrade from the left guard position can perhaps be offset by Ferguson's improvements in that area. One minor concern might be that Brandon Moore was graded as the worst guard in the NFL on screen passes in 2009. However, he was back in the middle of the pack in 2010, so that's probably just an aberration due to the small sample size. Overall, I think the linemen are equipped to block screen passes effectively and are not the reason for the play not being as successful as it might have been.

One other underrated aspect was that Laveraneus Coles was an surprisingly effective blocker on screens. In 2008, he ranked behind just Jabar Gaffney for screen blocking among wide receivers, despite having a negative blocking grade overall. Having said that, Coles had a negative grade for screen blocking in 2009 with the Bengals and overall I consider the current crop of Jets wideouts to be about as good at blocking as that 2008 group.

Looking Ahead

Although the yards per attempt and the percentage of throws that were screens dipped in 2010, the Jets did throw more screen passes overall and Sanchez was able to improve his completion percentage from 72% to 81%, which is hopefully a sign that he is growing in that area. If the Jets get younger at the Right Tackle position, that may improve their ability to get out in front. There is evidence to suggest that Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan have had success with the screen pass in the past, so that shouldn't hold them back. The final question is whether they have the personnel at running back to make the screen game work.

LaDainian Tomlinson did not produce well on screen passes last year and is not getting any younger. However, with a reduced role and better ball placement, he can perhaps replicate his 2009 numbers which would represent a big improvement. Shonn Greene is developing as a receiver, catching two screen passes for 14 yards last year, but also seeing five fall incomplete. Again, better accuracy from Sanchez should see an improvement there. It would seem that Joe McKnight is well equipped to make an impact in this area, although he - perhaps surprisingly - only had 13 catches for 66 yards in three years at USC. Then again, Sanchez was his Quarterback for some of that time. One other option might be John Conner, who caught 25 passes for 193 yards in college, so should represent an upgrade over Tony Richardon (4-for-17 on screen passes over the last three years) in the passing game.

Conclusions

Maybe Brian Schottenheimer could draw up better plays or call them at better times. Maybe the blocking could be better. Maybe the playmaking abilities of the Jets' skill position players leave a lot to be desired. However, on this occasion, the evidence points overwhelmingly to the fact that Mark Sanchez is the weak link at the moment in the Jets' screen game. When throwing the ball to his backs, Sanchez' accuracy is statistically well below that of his peers. Furthermore, even when he completes the pass, his ball placement is inconsistent, reducing the effectiveness of the play. The statistics and my recollections from film study during the season both bear this out.

The fact that he improved his completion percentage on screen passes in 2010 is a positive sign that hopefully this is an area that he will contnue to grow in. If the screen pass is a weapon they can use more effectively over the next few seasons, it will make the offense all the more dynamic.

Tags: BGA, Main Page, Bent Double

Should the Jets trade down? 00:03:02
The Daily News Live crew discusses whether or not the Jets should trade down so they can acquire more draft picks.

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets were so intent on acquiring more draft picks that just three weeks ago Mike Maccagnan insisted the Jets were "open for business every round."

Now it sounds like he means every round except the first.

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QB Mitch Trubisky highlights 00:01:06
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays of former UNC quarterback and NFL Draft prospect Mitch Trubisky.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

One year after using a second-round pick on quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said he "potentially" could draft a quarterback again. And no, he insisted, that wouldn't mean he's admitting a mistake on Hackenberg.

It would just be another step in the long process of finding "the right quarterback for this team."

"I don't think taking a player at one position is a referendum on another player," Maccagnan said on a conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon. "I think the goal is to put together best roster you can. Of course quarterback is a very, very important position in this process. But I wouldn't necessarily view it as a referendum."

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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DeShone Kizer highlights 00:01:19
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former Notre Dame quarterback and NFL Draft prospect DeShone Kizer.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Only time will tell if the Jets are serious about taking a quarterback in the first-round of the draft, but in the meantime they certainly are doing their homework.

The latest proof of that is the NFL Network report that they've already held a private workout with DeShone Kizer, the Notre Dame quarterback considered to be one of the top three quarterback prospects in the draft. That explains why Jets GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles skipped Notre Dame's Pro Day on Thursday and were both at Ohio State's Pro Day instead.

The Jets also have a private workout scheduled with North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who revealed that "secret" to reporters at his own Pro Day earlier this week. And while it's not known if the Jets plan to do the same with Clemson's DeShaun Watson, it seems likely that they will...

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 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The NFL's free-agent signing period is open, so bookmark this page and keep checking back for frequent updates on what the Jets are doing with their own free agents and with free agents from other teams, and for updates on their available salary cap space and contract numbers.

JETS SALARY CAP SPACE

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Brian Bassett is joined by SNY Analyst and former New York Jet Willie Colon for an all-new podcast, as they cover all the angles of the Jets rebuild - including Josh McCown, the future at running back, the state of the defense, and whether or not Todd Bowles will be around to see it all through.

Click below to listen!

 

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Marshon Lattimore highlights 00:00:35
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

One day after sending a large contingent to North Carolina to watch quarterback Mitch Trubisky at his Pro Day, the Jets rolled out their big guns for the Pro Day at Ohio State.

General Manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles were both in attendance at the Buckeyes Pro Day, according to reports out of Columbus, Ohio, along with representatives of every other NFL team -- including Giants scouting director Marc Ross. Maccagnan and Bowles were surely taking a close look at cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Malik Hooker -- two strong candidates for the Jets to take with the sixth overall pick in the draft.

And for what it's worth, they chose a trip to Columbus over a trip to South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame was holding its Pro Day on Thursday. The star of the Fighting Irish showcase was another quarterback -- DeShone Kizer -- who could go in the first round (though likely not as high as 6)...

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 (Kyle Terada)
(Kyle Terada)

WR Quinton Patton has signed with the Jets, the team annnounced Thursday.

He had visited with the team this past weekend.

Last season, Patton recorded 37 catches for 408 yards with the 49ers.

Tags: Charone Peake, Quincy Enunwa
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Jamal Adams highlights 00:01:05
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of LSU safety Jamal Adams.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Now that the big-money part of NFL free agency is over, teams have begun increasingly focusing on the NFL draft, and their first-round targets are becoming a little clearer. So here's SNY's weekly look at the top players on board for the Jets as they prepare to make the sixth overall pick of the NFL draft on April 27:

1.) S Jamal Adams, LSU - From the beginning, I've been focused on a cornerback for the Jets in this spot and Marshon Lattimore sure is a possibility (see below). But after free agency, it's clear that safety is the Jets' biggest unfulfilled need. No, they didn't do big things at corner either, but they have young players they liked and they added some potential in Morris Claiborne. At safety, though, they don't have much after striking out on Tony Jefferson in free agency. Calvin Pryor is in the last year of his contract and Marcus Gilchrist could be a salary cap casualty after the season. The 6-foot, 214-pound Adams is the best at his position in the draft and could be the leader of the Jets' secondary for years. (Last report: 2)...

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Oakland Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera (81) against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Oakland Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera (81) against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

TE Mychal Rivera has agreed to terms with the Jaguars, reports Jeff Darlington of ESPN.

Rivera visted the Jets on Monday, according to Peter Schrager of Fox Sports.

Rivera caught 18 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown in 13 games with Oakland last season. 

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
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Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson took to Instagram to refute a recent report that he is out of shape. 

In a video posted to his Instagram story, Wilkerson is seen running on a treadmill while sarcastically responding about his conditioning. 

"They say I'm fat and out of shape," he said. "Ha-ha. Keep sleeping on me. I'm telling you."

Wilkerson was referencing an article by the Daily News' Manish Mehta from last week. In the piece, Mehta quotes unnamed scouts who said the 27-year-old looked out of shape when he attended the Temple Pro Day in Philadelphia.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson
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Alabama Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard (88) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Clemson Tigers during the third quarter in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. (Kirby Lee)
Alabama Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard (88) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Clemson Tigers during the third quarter in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. (Kirby Lee)

Mel Kiper's third Mock Draft for ESPN has the Jets selecting Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the sixth overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Kiper notes that if the Jets are going to go with Josh McCownBryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg at quarterback, they are going to need someone to catch passes, and at 6-foot-6, 251 pounds, Howard is Kiper's top-ranked pass-catcher. While his numbers were not staggering at Alabama, Howard "has all of the athletic attributes of a top-tier player, though, and he was one of the most impressive prospects at the combine."

Howard caught 45 passes for 595 yards and three touchdowns last season. In his four years at Alabama, the 22-year old accumulated 114 receptions for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns.

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DNL on new Jets quarterback 00:02:51
The Daily News Live panel breaks down the Jets new man under center, journeyman quarterback and ex-Brown, Josh McCown.

The Daily News Live panel breaks down the Jets new man under center, journeyman quarterback and ex-Brown, Josh McCown. 

 


Weighing the Jets QB options 00:01:15
Ralph Vacchiano on the Jets' quarterback quandary after signing Josh McCown.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

One day after signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown, the Jets' search for their quarterback of the future continued in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Jets had a group of scouts and coaches -- reportedly including new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates -- in attendance there on Tuesday for the University of North Carolina's Pro Day, where the star attraction was Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky. And they're interested enough in the 22-year-old that Trubisky told reporters the Jets have set up a private workout with him, too.

The Jets currently are slated to pick sixth in the upcoming NFL draft and Trubisky and Clemson's Deshaun Watson are the only quarterbacks most NFL scouts and talent evaluators consider to be potential Top 10 picks. Some don't think any of the quarterbacks are Top 10 worthy, which means they could be available if the Jets decide to trade down.

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: Josh McCown 00:01:28
Taylor Rooks talks with SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano on the Jets signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Josh McCown is not the New York Jets' quarterback of the future, but neither were any of the other quarterbacks available on the free-agent market. There was no ideal answer to the Jets' biggest question.

But McCown is the perfect player to get them closer to the answers they need.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick
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 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The No. 1 priority for the Jets heading into this offseason was unquestionably to find a quarterback. Nothing else came close. Without a quarterback, nothing else really mattered. The Jets were desperate.

Or so we all thought.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports Images)
(Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports Images)

Writer/director Spike Lee said it's "fishy" that free agent QB Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned, mentioning the Jets among the teams that could use Kaepernick.

"The New York J-E-T-S Need A Quarterback," Lee wrote on Instagram. "Who Is The J-E-T-S Quarterback? Is My Man Joe Willie Namath Coming Back? Crazy Times We Live In."

Lee, who recently had brunch with Kaepernick, added that Kaepernick being unsigned "stinks to the high heavens."

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Chase Daniel (10) runs past New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Chase Daniel (10) runs past New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Free agent quarterback Chase Daniel will visit with the Jets on Monday, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed.

Last Monday, Daniel asked the Eagles for his release after they traded for veteran QB Nick Foles.

The 30-year-old backup quarterback visited with the Saints over the weekend, but left New Orleans without a deal.

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GEICO SportsNite: McCown 00:00:53
After reports that QB Josh McCown left his visit with the Jets without a contract, Ray Lucas discusses if signing the veteran is a fit.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

The Jets' latest search for their quarterback of the future could be nearing a temporary conclusion. And if it is, they'll have yet another short-term answer to the franchise's biggest problem.

Josh McCown, a 37-year-old journeyman free agent, continued his visit with the Jets for a second day on Saturday, according to an NFL source. The two sides are serious enough about each other that they've discussed contract parameters, the source said. Indications were that his visit was going very well.

That seems to position McCown as the leader of the dwindling pack of Jets' quarterback options. The Jets are also interested in former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, according to a source, and though he was expected to be brought in for a visit that has not happened yet. A team source confirmed the Jets have no interest in ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and beyond that the market is extremely thin.

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CB Morris Claiborne has signed with the Jets, the team announced. 

It will be a one-year deal worth $5 million, according to multiple reports.

The 27-year-old Claiborne had 26 tackles and one interception in seven games last season for the Cowboys.

Tags: Buster Skrine, Juston Burris, Marcus Williams
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On the latest edition of Timeout with Taylor Rooks, former Jets QB Geno Smith sits down with Taylor to discuss his time with the Jets and his decision to join the Giants.

"I will always kind of have that regret because I wanted to do so many things for that franchise.....I'm not a quitter, I don't like to lose and I don't like to give up on things. Sometimes in business you have to go your separate ways."

Click below to listen...

 

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) scrambles away from Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Canty (99) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) scrambles away from Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Canty (99) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze)

Free agent QB Josh McCown will visit the Jets on Friday and Saturday, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed. 

McCown, 37, recently visited with the Cowboys.

He completed 90 passes for 165 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions in five games last season for the Browns...

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith
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Smart or Disappointing 00:02:19
Marc Malusis and Dan Graca discuss if the jets had a smart or disappointing off season

Marc Malusis and Dan Graca discuss if the jets had a smart or disappointing offseason.

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Jets making right moves in FA? 00:03:37
The Daily News Live panel debates whether or not the Jets have been right in their approach to free agency so far this offseason.

The Daily News Live panel debates whether or not the Jets have been right in their approach to free agency so far this offseason.


 (Mark Hoffman)
(Mark Hoffman)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets claimed defensive tackle Mike Pennel off waivers in February, only to let him go a month later. Now they are bringing him back again.

The 25-year-old Pennel has signed a one-year deal with the Jets, his agent, Andy Simms, confirmed on Twitter. The former Green Bay Packer will be in the mix this summer to make the team on the Jets' crowded defensive line.

Pennel was once seen as a promising player. The 6-4, 332-pounder even started five games with the Packers in 2015. But his career took a bad turn last season when he was suspended twice -- for the first four games and then the last four games -- for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy...

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Let me get you started with the questions, because I know the big one that's on everybody's mind:

Q: What are the Jets going to do at quarterback?

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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Quincy Enunwa's breakout year was another example of how the former sixth-round pick has exceeded expectations. And in the NFL, young players get compensated for doing that.

To no one's surprise, the 24-year old receiver led the Jets in performance-based compensation from the NFL for the second straight season, pocketing another $327,637 for his 58-catch, 857-yard season. The annual bonus distribution is a way for the NFL and NFL Players Association to make sure that lower-salaried players are compensated for excellent performances, without counting against a team's salary cap.

In 2015, Enunwa pocketed nearly $300,000 in performance-based pay, giving him about $625,000 in bonuses for the last two seasons. His salaries for those two seasons were slightly more than $850,000 combined, so his bonuses equated to about 74 percent of his base pay...

Tags: Ben Ijalana, Rontez Miles, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (88) carries the ball ahead of San Francisco 49ers strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (88) carries the ball ahead of San Francisco 49ers strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been suspended by the NFL for two games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, the team announced. 

Late last September, Seferian-Jenkins was arrested for a DUI charge and was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Three days later, the Jets claimed him off waivers. 

In seven games with the Jets, he recorded 10 catches for 110 yards. 

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
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Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field.  (Brad Mills (USA Today))
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills (USA Today))

A Pittsburgh judge has dismissed all charges against former Jets CB Darrelle Revis.

According to reports, Revis' childhood friend appeared before the judge with his attorney and said he pulled the accusers off Revis and punched them.

Pittsburgh police charged Revis with four felonies, including two counts of aggravated assault, one count of robbery, one count of conspiracy/aggravated assault and one count misdemeanor count of making terroristic threats for the incident that took place in the early morning hours of Feb. 12.

Tags: Darrelle Revis
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 (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets are looking for a versatile third running back and kick returner and had made an offer to Travaris Cadet, but he has chosen to remain with the Saints, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Cadet was also weighing an offer from the Bills.

A 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, Cadet -- who visited with the Jets this past weekend -- has spent most of his five NFL seasons with the Saints. He had 40 catches and four receiving touchdowns for New Orleans last year, where new Jets offensive coordinator John Morton was the receiving coach...

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Dont'a Hightower returns to Pats 00:02:26
The Daily News Live team talks about Dont'a Hightower's decision to re-sign with the defending-champion Patriots rather than the Jets.

Free agent LB Dont'a Hightower has returned to the Patriots, signing a four-year, $43.5 million deal that includes a $19 million signing bonus.

The 27-year-old All-Pro visited the Jets on Monday and the Steelers on Tuesday. 

There were reports that New York was among the highest bidders for Hightower's services, reportedly offering him more than $12 million per year.

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 (Daniel Powers (USA Today))
(Daniel Powers (USA Today))

Update: 

The Jets have offered free agent LB Dont'a Hightower more than $12 million per year, according to Bleacher Report's Jason Cole.

Jason La Confora reported yesterday that the Jets had offered the most money for Hightower. La Confora said that the 27-year-old was not inclined to take New York's offer.

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 (Steven Senne/AP)
(Steven Senne/AP)

In today's Jets mailbag, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano weighs in on the quarterback situation, the possibility of tanking, and the Jets' potential pitch to Dont'a Hightower...


Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Is it worth the #Jets going after a Brock Osweiler or Chase Daniel if other teams are on the hook for their salaries? -- @MiniHulk5

If you mean that's because their prices will be lower, I wouldn't worry about that. Yes, Osweiler and Daniel are already making money this season from their old teams, so perhaps they'd be willing to take less from their new one. But really, how high is their value going to be anyway? Right now I only count four teams without a starting quarterback - the Jets, Browns, Texans, and 49ers. The Texans are probably going to get Tony Romo and the other two are drafting 1-2 in April...

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Minnesota Vikings fullback Zach Line (48) catches a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium. (Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings fullback Zach Line (48) catches a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium. (Bruce Kluckhohn)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Looking to bolster their rushing attack - which might be especially important if they end up with an inexperienced quarterback - the Jets are bringing in fullback Zach Line for a free-agent visit.

The 26-year-old Line, who played the last four seasons for the Vikings, is expected to arrive in Florham Park, N.J., on Wednesday. He had been the Vikings' primary fullback the last two seasons. In 2016, the Vikings had the NFL's worst rushing attack, though that was largely due to the absence of running back Adrian Peterson. In 2015, they ranked fourth in the league as Peterson rushed for 1,485 yards.

The Jets did not have a true fullback on their roster last season, though they still ranked 12th in the NFL in rushing behind Matt Forte and Bilal Powell.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Matt Forte, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Howard Jones (95) in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 17-9.  (Bill Streicher (USA Today))
Aug 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Howard Jones (95) in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 17-9. (Bill Streicher (USA Today))

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Howard Jones, a defensive end who can play linebacker in a 3-4 defense and who spent the last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will make a free-agent visit to the Jets on Friday, an NFL source confirmed.

The visit, reported by ESPN, will be a chance for the Jets to check on his rehabilitation from a torn ACL that limited him to just eight games last season. In 2015, before he got hurt, he showed a lot of promise with five sacks in 12 games, including five starts. He had two sacks that season in his NFL debut.

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Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) on the field during the game against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. (Tim Heitman)
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) on the field during the game against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. (Tim Heitman)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

The free-agent market has thinned out a bit, but the Jets still have plenty of holes to fill. Yes, they still need a quarterback. But they have many other needs, too.

The good news is they still have a decent amount of salary-cap space and there is still help available. Here's a look at some of the non-quarterbacks still on the market who could be a fit:

CB Morris Claiborne (Cowboys) - The former sixth-overall pick (2012), he was long considered a bust before he began to finally play up to expectations last season - right up until he injured his groin. He's still only 27 and as the Jets begin a youth movement in the secondary it might be worth giving him a chance to prove his start last season wasn't a fluke. They'd need to move fast, though, since word is he could soon end up with the Ravens.

Tags: Darrelle Revis, Darron Lee, David Harris, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Patriots still tormenting Jets 00:02:49
The Daily News Live crew discusses how the Patriots are dominating the Jets in every aspect this offseason.

The Daily News Live crew discusses how the Patriots are dominating the Jets in every aspect this offseason.


Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are back with a new podcast, and for the Jets, it's been a few weeks of out with the old, and in with the…well, not much. The guys say goodbye to Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, and Nick Folk, and look ahead to what comes next as the Jets look to re-build around QB TBD.

Click below to listen!

 

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 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets don't seem to be in any hurry to figure out their starting quarterback for 2017 and they are "considering all options," according to a source. At the moment there are many. None of them are great.

But Jay Cutler does appear to be up near the top of their list.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith
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Dont'a Hightower (Daniel Powers/USA TODAY Sports)
Dont'a Hightower (Daniel Powers/USA TODAY Sports)

Latest Updates (Mar. 13)

4:25 p.m.: The Jets concluded their visit with free agent LB Dont'a Hightower on Monday afternoon.

11:10 a.m.: After visiting the Jets, Hightower is scheduled to visit the Steelers, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

 

Tags: Darron Lee, David Harris, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: Cutler to NY? 00:02:51
Ralph Vacchiano breaks down the latest on the New York Jets and Giants in free agency.

The Jets have called to express interest in free agent QB Jay Cutler, who was released by the Bears last week, reports SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

Cutler, 33, completed 81 of 137 passes for 1,059 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions in five games last season for the Bears while dealing with two separate injuries.

He threw for 3,659 yards in 2015 to go along with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

The Jets sat on the sidelines during the first few days of the NFL's free-agent frenzy, choosing to avoid some of the crazy contracts being thrown around. But they have done some spending, re-signing a few of their own players and bringing in a new left tackle and a new kicker.

So what's next? Well, the biggest question of all still hangs over the Jets since they don't yet know who their starting quarterback will be in 2017. Pretty much every other question pales in comparison to that one, and they don't appear much closer to answering it right now.

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 (Matt Kartozian)
(Matt Kartozian)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

The Jets still haven't ruled out bringing Geno Smith back to compete for their starting quarterback job next season. But the Giants may be taking a shot at him first.

Smith, the former Jets second-round pick, is making a free agent visit across town to the Giants on Saturday afternoon, an NFL source confirmed. The Giants are in the market for a backup to Eli Manning, with both Josh Johnson and Ryan Nassib currently unrestricted free agents.

A big part of the visit, according to one source, is so the Giants can get a sense for where the 26-year-old Smith is in his recovery from the torn ACL he suffered last October in his lone start last season with the Jets. In a recent interview with NFL Network, Smith said he was on track to be ready for the start of training camp in July, but likely wouldn't be ready for football activities before that.

Tags: Geno Smith, Ralph Vacchiano
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Kelvin Beachum started 15 games last season for Jacksonville (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
Kelvin Beachum started 15 games last season for Jacksonville (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: The Jets are still searching for a quarterback, but now they have someone who can protect his blindside.

Taking their first dip in this year's free-agent pool, the Jets signed former Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum on Friday night. He figures to immediately become the starter on the left side, taking the place of the Ryan Clady/Ben Ijalana combo the Jets used last season.

The Jets also filled two other key vacancies on Friday night when they signed former Arizona Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who replaces the recently released Nick Folk, and they re-signed long-snapper Tanner Purdum.

Beachum (6 foot 3, 308 pounds) was the big get for the Jets. A former seventh-round pick of the Steelers, he was on his way to becoming one of the best left tackles in the NFL before he tore his ACL during the 2015 season. He proved his recovery, though, by starting 15 games at left tackle for the Jaguars last year.

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Jets outlook for 2017 00:03:24
The Daily News Live panel wonders if the Jets have already given up on the 2017 season given the current makeup of the team.

Maccagnan's seat warming up? 00:02:42
Jon Hein and Dan Graca discuss if Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan should be on the hot seat as the Jets enter free agency.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV

The first few hours of the NFL's free-agent frenzy didn't clear up the Jets' quarterback question, but the landscape changed a bit and may have increased their options. Jay Cutler, as expected, is now available. And Brock Osweiler, unexpectedly, is available too.

So what are the Jets doing and who are they looking at, and do they have any idea who their quarterback will be in 2017?

Here's a look at their current options, just a few hours after the market opened with the Jets standing relatively still:

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Jets lack of free agent activity 00:03:06
Jon Hein and Dan Graca debate just how depressing the first day of free agency has been for the New York Jets and their fan base.

Free agent RB Benny Cunningham  met with the Jets on Friday, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reports.

The 26-year-old appeared in 11 games last season with the Rams, rushing 21 times for 101 yards.

Cunningham signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and has spent his entire career with the St. Louis/Los Angeles franchise.

Since debuting in 2013, he's carried the ball 171 times for 748 yards and four touchdowns in 57 career games with the Rams.

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Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) fumbles the ball after being sacked by New York Jets linebacker Corey Lemonier (44) and New York Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins (48) during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) fumbles the ball after being sacked by New York Jets linebacker Corey Lemonier (44) and New York Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins (48) during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Jets have re-signed LB Corey Lemonier, the team announced Thursday night.

The 25-year-old was claimed off waivers from the Lions on Dec. 26 and appeared in New York's Week 17 game against the Bills.

Lemonier has appeared in 51 career games since he was selected by the 49ers in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft.

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Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Josh Martin (95) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports (Mark J. Rebilas)
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Josh Martin (95) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports (Mark J. Rebilas)

The Jets have re-signed LB/ST Josh Martin to a two-year, $4.3 million deal, the team announced Thursday night.

The fourth-year pro played in a career-high 15 games for New York last season, primarily on special teams.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV

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